Our cabin in the Medicine Bow Mountains, from which many of the images were made.
In October 2008, during the worst week of the financial crisis, we bought this rickety cabin in the Snowy Range of the Medicine Bow Mountains in southern Wyoming. It was built in the 1930’s on public land managed by the US Forest Service. Click below to browse a gallery of images both inside and outside the cabin over the past 4 years.
The cabin is about 10,400′ above sea level, and is completely inaccessible by road from about November through June each year. We’ve snowshoed and skied in every winter, and found a wonderland of deep snow, piercing cold, and some of most transparent skies I’ve ever seen. Both doors become totally buried by snow, so we built an “escape hatch” at one corner about 5 feet off the ground. We dig down to the hatch which opens inward, and can enter the cabin even when the snow is up over the roof. It’s exhausting to dig in the thin air, but we take turns.
We’ve done a ton of work remodeling the interior, and unfortunately the entire surrounding forest has died due to the unprecedented infestation of spruce beetles. We’ve had to fell dozens of trees that threatened to fall on the cabin, so it now sits in a clearcut. It’s about 100 miles from home and takes 2 hours door-to-door to drive there. During summer I can drive my Prius right to the door, and in winter there’s no vehicle that could possibly drive in there (except snowmobiles).
There’s no electricity or running water (nearest power is 2 miles downhill). We installed a 12-volt power system that runs off of 2 huge 6-volt deep cycle batteries in series, charged by a single solar panel on the roof. We use LED light bulbs in standard fixtures, and it’s just delightful inside at night. We installed a composting toilet in a closet-sized bathroom, and it works great — no smell at all! We carry water up from town in 5-gallon jugs, and leave a huge steel pot with a spigot full all winter. We can put this on the wood stove and have running water in minutes.